A group of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers who call themselves ‘Silence Breakers’ have called his conviction for rape and sexual assault a “landmark moment” and a “triumph” for victims
The former Hollywood producer was found guilty on Monday of raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006.
He was acquitted on the most serious charges – two counts of predatory sexual assault, but still faces a possible jail term of five to 29 years.
And he is facing separate charges in Los Angeles involving two more alleged sexual assault victims.
Weinstein is currently in a jail unit at Bellevue Hospital in New York where he is being monitored for heart palpitations and high blood pressure after the verdicts.
One of his lawyers, Arthur Aidala, said Weinstein was “upbeat” and “energised” about appealing against his convictions.
Dozens of women have claimed he bullied, pressured, coerced or overpowered them while demanding sexual favours. Their allegations sparked the #Metoo movement.
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Among 11 accusers at a news conference on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall was actress Rosanna Arquette, who called Monday’s verdicts a “watershed moment”.
She told reporters: “Today is truly a landmark moment for survivors of rape and sexual assault in that the public is seeing that men, even men as powerful as Weinstein, will be held accountable for their abuse of women.”
Actress, comedian and writer Sarah Ann Masse said: “While it is disappointing that he was not found guilty on all counts, the truth is that this verdict is a triumph for survivors everywhere.”
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Actress Larissa Gomes said: “I’m not shaming myself anymore because the shame belongs with him. I’m not silent anymore because I’m doing what I can to ensure that he can’t silence one more woman.”
Louisette Geiss, an actress and producer, addressed Weinstein himself, saying: “You messed with the wrong women….and to the rest of the sexual predators, we are coming for you.”
She also said of Weinstein: “We will see you here in Los Angeles where hopefully your conviction will leave you in jail for life.”
Lauren O’Connor, who worked as a literary scout for the Weinstein Company, which Harvey Weinstein co-founded with his brother Bob, said: “The balance of power was me 0 and Weinstein 10.
“Yesterday the scales of justice rebalanced – the power is now survivors 10 and abusers and predators 0.
“This verdict will change the history of future generations for years to come.”
Meanwhile, British actress Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, who has not made allegations about Weinstein, told Sky News that change is happening but “at a snail’s pace”.
She said for the change to be meaningful it “needs to get further than our industry”.
“It needs to get further than people who go on TV and look attractive talking about it,” she said.
“It has to be something that is so well-established in all industries and walks of life, then we’ll have gained ground properly.”
Her co-star in the film Military Wives, Sharon Horgan, agreed that “change needs to be an all pervasive thing”.
The actress stressed that “it’s just important no one takes their foot off the pedal because it could easily slip back”.
Horgan, who also writes and runs a production company, told Sky News that although female led stories are now more popular because they make “economic sense”, it is still considered a man’s world.
“I think that’s because the people who make the decisions are in charge of the studios or hold the purse strings are still predominately male,” she said.
“Until that changes, until that landscape diversifies a bit, I think there will still be a wee bit of trouble.”
Scott Thomas also says women must not forget about boys if they want to further change the status quo.
“It’s also really important for women who have young sons to bring them up in this new way because it’s really difficult for guys at the moment because I think it’s difficult to be a young man or even an older man because the rules have changed suddenly and it’s quite destabilising,” she said.
“So we need to make sure as mothers, as women who are bringing up these boys, that we teach them the new rules.”
The anti-sexual harassment group Time’s Up was launched in response to the allegations against Weinstein following the success of the #Metoo movement.
Its UK chief executive Dame Heather Rabbatts told Sky News that the Weinstein verdict will empower women everywhere.
She said: “When you have a group of silence breakers who stand up against one person it’s like a lightning rod.
“What it does is that it has empowered lots of women from lots of different sectors, whatever their positions are, to feel confident that they can raise their voice.
“It has shone a beacon into this area – and it will encourage many, many women to feel they don’t have to suffer in silence.
“And that the world is changing because empowering women is of huge significance now and it shows if you talk and break the silence you can ultimately get justice.”